'Strange,' SC surprised over UP govt counsel opposing maintenance plea by Muslim woman, daughter

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Hearing a plea by the woman and her minor daughter, the bench said it was surprised to note that the counsel for the State has taken up the cause of the husband

The Supreme Court has taken exception to the Uttar Pradesh state counsel opposing a plea seeking maintenance by a Muslim woman and her minor daughter from her husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, observing that their approach is 'strange'.

"We are surprised to note that the counsel for the State has taken up the cause of the husband," a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan said.

The court was hearing an appeal by the woman concerning maintenance payable to her and the daughter.

The bench said, "The approach of the State in taking the side of the husband in a maintenance case, to say the least, is very strange".

In fact, the counsel, who appeared for the State was under a duty and obligation to act as an officer of the court and to assist the court in arriving at a correct conclusion, the court said. 

The bench directed this order would be forwarded to the Secretaries of the Home and Law Departments for the State of Uttar Pradesh.

The bench, however, clarified that the State Government of Uttar Pradesh will not blame or penalise the advocates who represented it before this court.

By the order of March 20, 2021, the Family Court allowed the application under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 filed by the appellants and granted total maintenance of Rs 12,000 per month. 

The appellant and her husband preferred revision applications.

The High Court by a very cryptic order on August 26, 2021 reduced the maintenance by a sum of Rs 2,000 per month, even without hearing the appellant-woman, the court noted.

"Obviously, the High Court could not have passed such order exparte, without giving an opportunity of hearing to the appellants," the bench said.

The High Court again on April 8, 2022 dismissed the application by the appellants in view of opposition by the state counsel. The HC did not issue notice to the husband.

"We must mention two strange facts. The revision application preferred by the appellants (wife and the minor daughter) was vehemently opposed by the counsel representing the State of Uttar Pradesh, as passed by the High Court," the bench said.

"Moreover, in both the appeals, there is a counter affidavit filed by the Superintendent of Police, Rampur, UP, opposing the appeals. The legality of the impugned order has been justified in the affidavit," the bench added, finding it strange.

The court set aside both the orders and restored the matter to the file of the High Court.

It also directed the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad to the revision applications for directions before the roster bench on March 11, 2024 in the morning session, when the first appellant, the first respondent and the second respondent (husband) will appear before the concerned court for fixing the date for hearing of the revision applications.

The court partly allowed the appeals and restored the Family Court's order.